Should We Stay Or Should We Go – Lionel Shriver

In 1991 at the age of 51, Cyril and Kay make a pact: to avoid the ravages of old age, they will jointly commit suicide at age 80. Now in March 2020, it is decision time. Ms. Shriver thoughtfully and comprehensively provides 12 possible outcomes. What if one opts out? What if cryogenics delivers then into a future strange new world? As usual, Shriver addresses serious themes with characteristic scenarios that may be touching but often hilarious, with contemporary issues like Brexit and the pandemic. Highly recommended.

Property – Lionel Shriver

Property - Lionel ShriverAs a general rule, I do not read short stories (with a notable exception for the sublime writing of Alice Munro) for a simple and somewhat trivial reason: short stories are too short to engage me. However, Lionel Shriver is a fabulous author (Big Brother, Double Fault, the fantastic We Need To Talk About Kevin…) so I decided to read her first book with ten short stories and two novellas. Shriver is such a keen observer and reporter of human behaviour, and these stories, almost without without exception, are masterful. As is clear from the title, the stories are about the relationships people have with possessions. Her writing is insightful, sometimes hilarious and such a pleasure to read in this format. Highly recommended.

The Mandibles – A Family 2029-2047 – Lionel Shriver

lionel shriver do not.jpegShriver writes impeccable novels about contemporary issues: the obesity epidemic (Big Brother), health care costs (So Much For That), and a mass killing (We Need To Talk About Kevin) and others (Double Fault is a favourite of mine). In this novel, she describes the near future (2029 and beyond) after the financial collapse of America. Her focus is on 4 generations in a family, so the psychological aftermath is even more chilling. This is an excellent read and very relevant post-2008 financial collapse; what if things had progressed downhill even more dramatically .